Thursday, November 24, 2011

Parliamentary reform proposals worth considering

Over at, one of the best Canadian political blogs, they make some worthy parliamentary reform proposals for all of us to consider.  To do that, however, the blog rightfully admits that the prime stumbling-block is the grandfather clause that provinces must have at least as many MPs as it has senators (e.g. PEI with 4).

I like the fact that the main senate proposal is for each province to have an equal number of senators--10 each with 4 appointed federally and 6 appointed by the province at each provincial election.  I think 100 is too many though--Canada is not that populated it needs over-representation.  Also, while it floors me that many people still need convincing that provincial equality is crucial to the unity of the country, the blog does not make a strong case as to why this is necessary.  What is also important though, in the majority of Canadians' opinion, that these senators should be elected by the people, not by politicians themselves.

I have advocated 66 senators: six for each province, two for each territory, where half the senators are elected every six years in conjunction with civic elections, which are held every three years.  Each province would be divided into six senatorial regions, not necessarily based on population density, but on economics and geography.

For example, Alberta's senatorial regions would be divided as follows:
1. Peace Country (Northwest) -- High River, Peace River, Grand Prairie, Slave Lake, High Prairie, Whitecourt
2. Wood Buffalo (Northeast) -- Lac La Biche, Cold Lake, Ft. McMurray, Athabasca
3. Capital Region -- Edmonton, St. Albert, Sherwood Park, Leduc, Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Mornville
4. Mountain -- Grande Cache, Hinton, Edson, Jasper, Lake Louise, Banff, Canmore, Nordegg
5. Central -- Red Deer, Camrose, Rocky Mountain House, Stettler, Oyen, Drumheller
6. South -- Calgary, Airdrie, Brooks, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Fort MacLeod, Waterton

Monday, November 21, 2011

More reasons to not support AB PC gov't...

1) .05 alcohol blood limit allows police to seize your vehicle..
2) $3.1 billion deficit higher than expected so bring in health care premiums!

1) .05: So without due justice and right, police can suspend your license and seize your vehicle for 3 days.  I'm told in BC that this has really hurt the service industry.  Sure, have .05, but why not just let it be a ding on your demerits or insurance.  For a big guy like me, .05 is nothing.

2) Premiums:  So instead of curtailing spending, what do these geniuses come up with?  Reintroducing health care premiums (read: tax).  This will bring in about $1 billion annually.  What's stupid is that many companies (like mine) that provided this benefit have already adjusted their budgets for other employee benefits (e.g. RRSPs, profit sharing).  So in a way, this will hurt jobs and income if companies have to readjust.  But it really hurts lower-middle income folks too, like over 25 year old single parents going back to school for retraining, so it's just stupid, lazy policy that doesn't curtail anyone from visiting the doctor.

Come on people.  40 years is enough of this joke of a gov't.  How anyone who calls themselves a conservative can continue to support the PCs is beyond me.  An election is this Spring.  Do the province a favour and turf these power grubbing morons.

Friday, November 18, 2011

"Shut the #!*% up!"

When the Liberals had a majority, they used to end debate pretty quickly.  In the case of the current omnibus crime bill, all of the measures have been thoroughly debated already.  So for NDP MPs like Pat Martin, who used profanity on their Twitter account to whine about it, and telling a follower to "F--k off" without an apology (I don't really care about that, but his vitriol is wanting), at this pace, someone's going to need him to eat soap.  In other words, with a Conservative majority and a mandate in place, he'd better get used to it.

John Ivison from the National Post has some "Advice for the opposition parties: Shut the #!*% up!"


Conservatives were set to use their majority to shut down debate on the omnibus crime bill at the justice committee Thursday, and have used time allocation on six other bills to speed their passage through the House of Commons. (In the event, after the cameras switched off, MPs agreed on a compromise that will see them come back to debate again next week.)

Judging by the response, you'd think they had suspended habeas corpus. "A stunning assault on democracy," frothed Green leader Elizabeth May. "A hijacking of democracy," said Liberal Irwin Cotler.

Mr. Cotler, who should know better, was in full flow. "If we pass these nine bills in their present form - we will have the exact opposite of what we seek: more crime, less justice and more cost," he told the committee.

That may very well be the case - and there are certainly many shortcomings in the crime bill. But his opinion on its worth should not be confused with the government's right to pass legislation on which it was elected. It's not as if the various component bills that make up the Safe Streets and Communities Act have not been debated in Parliament. The bill as it stands has had four days of debate, comprising 16 hours and 53 speeches, not to mention nine days at committee. But much of its content has been hanging around Parliament since the Conservatives were elected in 2006. In total, including review in the Senate, the component bills have had 53 days of debate, made up of 95 hours and 261 speeches, since they were first introduced, according to the House leader's office. Not quite the trampling of democracy the opposition parties suggest.

In fact, most of the legislation in front of the House has been thoroughly aired - bills to modernize copyright, kill the long-gun registry, open up the wheat board, and create more seats in the House of Commons have all appeared in one form or another in previous parliaments.

Almost by definition, the opposition parties don't agree with them - nor should they. But the Conservatives won the right to push through their agenda at the last election, after years of seeing half their bills killed by elections, prorogation and opposition tactics.


h/t Dr. Roy

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The new RCMP chief...

His name is Robert Paulson

Now I remember where I've heard that name before...

Edit: Ah, crap. Someone beat me to it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

To PST or not to PST

I had a dream last night that I was having an open conversation with Premier Redford.  Honest.  I asked her about what it's like governing then hit her with the PST thing.  I said, "I don't mind a PST, but you have to eliminate income taxes."  She wasn't all that open to it.  Then I said, "You guys have a spending problem, not a revenue problem."

But that Ron Liepert is something else isn't he? 

Yesterday:  To PST...

“In Alberta, we can’t continue to rely on resource revenues, and I think we should have that conversation sooner instead of later,” Liepert told EEDC’s (Edmonton Economic Development Corp.’s) 2012 economic outlook luncheon.

"So somehow it’s trying to close that gap between what’s expected to be a fairly flat revenue stream and increasing expenditures. And the only way you can get to a balanced budget is by closing that gap. That’s the challenge we’ve got ahead of us and we’ll be dealing with that over the next few weeks.”
Today:  Not to PST...
“First, in the interest of absolute clarity, Premier Redford, Deputy Premier Horner and all of my cabinet colleagues are committed to preserving Alberta’s “NO PST” status."   

Ok, so Ron was open to the idea because roundtable Albertans said so. Then the political fallout came and he was muzzled.

That coupled with the decision to have or not to have a legislative session this year, on flip flopping on the Heartland power lines, their made up tiff with the feds on funding of the Royal Alberta Museum, and lack of forcefulness on the Keystone XL pipeline don't compare with the fact that this gov't fails to look for ways to save on expenditures.

Especially when it spends 40% more per capita than Ontario and 30% more than BC for the same services.  And why is Alberta spending more on health care than the other provinces, except perhaps Newfoundland and Labrador, when it has the youngest population?  I can see if we had an aging one, which we do to an extent.

The issue here folks, is management.  Unlike other provinces, when you have the same party running the show for 40 years with little to no accountability, with high-wage baby boomers in administration and bureaucracy, new approaches to governing aren't discovered, no matter who the leader is.  And that party feeds the departmental bureaucracy in perpetual pocketlining each and every budget, but not asking them to look for ways to save or become more efficient.  I haven't heard it come out of Redford's statements or this party's statements that they'll streamline government.  They say Albertans are telling them.
"Round table participants are asking government to spend wisely and be more efficient including the delivery of healthcare and education. It will be these ideas that will be considered by the Alberta government caucus over the coming months, not a sales tax.”

Why do they even have to consult Albertans on this?  It's just a smokescreen folks.  How do they not know they have a spending problem when they haven't balanced the books in many, many years?  It's like they're not even trying and just going through the motions.

Why did they need to raid the Heritage Trust Fund to pay for budget items when much more in savings could easily be found if they just try?  Why? 

The last thing we need is more taxes.  It's a weak cop-out by a weak-willed government and party.

While I thought I'd give them a couple months chance to prove themselves, the premier I voted for, Redford and Co. have disappointed me at every turn, so for all that, I just ripped up my Alberta PC membership card.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"Deep voice candidates do better with voters" - study

So that's why Brian Mulroney won two majorities!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Public art

You wonder why some of us fiscal conservative types want to reduce or eliminate public art funding?

This "art" is being placed next to the Whitemud Drive-Quesnell Bridge on-ramp--an area that was newly reconstructed to add lanes to the bridge and freeway.  This is also an area of much natural beauty--the North Saskatchewan River, the forests, Whitemud Creek Park, the Equine Centre, hiking and bike trails, and just across Fox Drive is a small farm.

Yep.  Our River Valley has amazing natural beauty.  But when I think of it, I ask, "Nevermind trees or shrubs.  Who needs that?  You know what we need?  $500k+ in shiny steel ball mounds.  That'll blend in perfectly!"

Like, seriously.  Who approved this crap?

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Harper: "Bert, you have to give us an override."

Triple E Senate booster and Conservative Senator Bert Brown was asked by Prime Minister Harper to look for a way to ensure the House of Commons remains supreme over the Senate regarding passing legislation.  Senator Brown proposes that we simply use the same formula in the 1982 Canada Act, but to do so, each province must have an equal number of senators.  That formula being 7 out of 10 provinces with more than 50% of the population to change the constitution. 

It would now apply to senators.  But to do that, you need Quebec or Ontario to agree as the other provinces' populations don't add up to 50%.  Bert is also proposing that Ontario and Quebec senators would also get veto powers.  I guess that prevents the whole country from ganging up on Quebec (or Ontario).

This idea stems from folks who don't believe the Senate should reign over the House of Commons especially if it's elected--it would give it more legitimacy and power.    But I have to laugh at that since they're admitting that electing senators gives them that democracy, where currently, with them appointed, all they need is 50% + 1 to kill a bill from the lower house dominated by Quebec and Ontario!  Insenaty now!!!

What do we at Hatrock's Cave think?  Anything to get to provincial equality is fine by us.  Not regional equality, but provincial.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011